Ladies European Tour rookie Camille Chevalier produced a back-nine birdie blitz to become a first-time winner at the Hero Women’s Indian Open in Gurgaon.
The 23-year-old from Aix-en-Provence fired five birdies in her last eight holes on the Gary Player-designed Black Knight Golf Course at DLF Golf and Country Club for a final round of 67, to finish at 12-under-par, a stroke clear of the overnight leader Michele Thomson from Scotland.
“I’m really happy because I’m a rookie and I just won a tournament, so it’s awesome. This is my first win on tour so I’m really happy and I can’t wait to celebrate with my friends,” said Chevalier, who becomes the third successive first year professional to capture the title, following Emily Kristine Pedersen and Aditi Ashok, who both went on to be named Rookie of the Year.
Chevalier, whose previous best finishes on tour were tied 16th in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and joint 17th in Thailand, now moves into first position on the LET Rookie Ranking and 17th on the Order of Merit.
Chevalier had started the final round three strokes behind Thomson and was six back after eight holes, at which point Thomson had built a five-stroke advantage. Thomson, however, then made back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11, while Chevalier, who had played the front nine in level par, birdied 11 and 12.
There was a three-shot swing on the 14th, which Thomson double bogeyed and Chevalier birdied to gain a share of the lead at 10-under.
Although Thomson made a gain on 16, Chevalier birdied the last two holes, denying Thomson on the 18th.
“I think making the final putt was the only time I felt nervous,” Chevalier said. “It was 65 metres and I hit a 58-degree wedge over the water. I wanted to hit the slope so it would roll back and luckily it did, to around a metre from the flag.''
“I really didn’t get affected by anything, because I didn’t expect that I was going to win. I was more concerned about keeping my card for the LET next year, because I was border line, so I’m really happy to be keeping my card because I was so stressed about it.”
Thomson faced a much longer, downhill birdie putt, but her effort ended just beyond the hole. After following her course record 64 with a 71, she said: “Today I had a great start again and was trying to make the same score but the putter went cold on the back nine and I missed by one. There were a couple of mistakes on the back nine, but I can’t take anything away from Camille; she played awesome and congratulations to her. I will take back a lot of positives away, and will try and do one better next time.”
Anne Van Dam, Carlota Ciganda and Sarah Kemp shared third place, three strokes back. Van Dam was feeling slightly hard done by after her 67.
She said: “I had eight birdies and seven wedge shots ended inside a metre, so my birdies came quite easily and I’m very happy with that. I had three bogeys which were unfortunate and I lipped out on 16 and 18 from a short distance, so if I look at the leader board now it feels a bit tough, but I’ll feel confident heading to China.”
A stroke further back in a tie for sixth place, another LET rookie, Vani Kapoor from India, was delighted with her career best finish on her home course.
“I’ve been playing this tournament for the past seven years and have been waiting to have my week. I’d very happily take this. The final day didn’t go as I expected it to. It was the first time I was in contention, and I was a bit nervous as well, but I’m really happy with the way I handled myself on the course,” said Kapoor, who moved up to 73rd position on the Order of Merit heading to China.
In all, there were four Indian players who made the cut in the tournament, which is co-sanctioned between the LET and Women’s Professional Golf Association of India. The 2016 champion Aditi Ashok tied for 13th place and Pravani Urs was the leading amateur.
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